7 prospects for Panthers with a top-5 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Patrick Surtain II
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Patrick Surtain II /
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Carolina Panthers
(Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports) Penei Sewell /

Penei Sewell – OT (Oregon)

It doesn’t appear as if Russell Okung’s stay with the Carolina Panthers will be longer than one season. The veteran left tackle was acquired via a trade that sent Trait Turner to the Los Angeles Chargers during the offseason and although he’s done well protecting the edge when in the lineup, injury has restricted him to just seven games in 2020.

Couple this with a $13 million in base salary that would be better spent elsewhere, and the writing is on the wall for Okung. If the Panthers choose to look at alternative options, then Penei Sewell should be high on the shortlist and might just be in play with a top-five pick.

Simply put, Sewell has the skills to become the best tackle prospect to enter the NFL in recent memory. The Oregon sensation may have sat out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 health concerns. But his elite level of production for the Ducks in 2019 protecting Justin Herbert’s blindside is sure to have NFL scouts salivating at the mouth.

Sewell played so well last year that he even received a Heisman Trophy vote, such was the impact he made. The left tackle has exceptional technique, strong footwork, and recovery ability that makes him a plug and play starter with an All-Pro ceiling.

Putting Sewell and Taylor Moton together – providing Carolina can extend the former second-round pick – would give them a reliable bookend presence on their offensive line that would stand them in extremely good stead moving forward.